Kansas City Royals: Brandon Maurer is officially on watch

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 31: Brandon Maurer
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 31: Brandon Maurer /

Even though the Kansas City Royals are rebuilding and looking for cheap contracts, they will potentially be forced to cut ties with some player. Brandon Maurer has to be the top candidate right now.

The Kansas City Royals traded for Brandon Maurer last year during the July trade deadline. He was part of the six-player trade sent Matt Straham, Travis Wood, and Esteury Ruiz to the San Diego Padres and Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter, and Maurer to Kansas City.

When the Royals made this trade, they were hoping for some bullpen stability as they pushed for one last playoff run.

At that point, the Royals were 44-43 and just three games behind Cleveland for the division lead. They were also just a game behind for the second Wild Card spot. The Royals were “all in” but they were not going to spend as high as they did in 2015.

Why the Royals wanted Maurer

Before the trade happened the Royals were hoping they acquired pitchers that could close games and aid the rotation, which they thought they had acquired with the trade.

In 2015, Maurer posted a 3.00 ERA over 53 games, resulting in 51.0 innings of work. He only had 39 strikeouts but surrendered just 39 hits as well. For a young bullpen arm not yet in arbitration, those are numbers you enjoy seeing.

Then in 2016, Maurer started to have more chances at closing out games. He did not have a lot of success with it as he only converted 13 of 19 attempts. He did have 13 holds and he upped his innings to 69.2 innings over 71 games though. His ERA inflated to 4.52, but when you look at the last three months of the year they were promising. He posted a 3.02 ERA and converted 13 of 15 save opportunities.

A Royal hope?

When the Royals made the trade in 2017, they should have known something was not right. Before they traded for Maurer, he had a 5.75 ERA over 42 games and 39.2 innings. During that time he converted 20 of 23 save opportunities.

While the ERA was not something to be excited about, the Royals obviously hoped that they could help him become more consistent. In April and July, Maurer posted a 2.98 ERA compared to May and June where he posted an 8.14 ERA

The “hope” that is officially a problem

Since the trade, Maurer has been a complete disaster. There is truly no other way to explain it. Over his 26 appearances and 20.0 innings in 2017, Maurer had a horrendous 8.10 ERA. He would also go on to allow two or more runs in five games. That is nearly 20% of his appearances.

That’s not good.

Something that has probably put a target on Maurer’s back as well could be the fact that he is the first player since 2006, first under Dayton Moore, to go to an arbitration hearing. Meaning, Maurer thought his value was worth more than what the Royals assessed his value at. The Royals wanted to pay him $2.95 million while Maurer filed for $3.5 million. Thankfully the Royals won the hearing and Maurer is only making $2.95 million this year.

With a bad taste in all of Royals nations mouth already, Maurer needed to start the 2018 season hot and that is the exact opposite of what he has been doing. In his first three appearances of the season, he has pitched just 1.2 innings and has allowed five runs. This horrible start has resulted in a 22.5 ERA. Yes, you read that number right.

Since joining the Royals last year, Maurer has posted a 9.81 ERA, allowing 23 runs over 21.1 innings and 29 appearances.

Final Thoughts

I fully understand the fact that the likelihood of Maurer continuing to post an ERA over 20 is very small. I also understand that he has pitched in just three games this year. However, the fact that he has nearly 30 games in Royal blue and has an ERA over 9.00 during that time should be concerning.

Maurer is definitely going to be someone to keep an eye on. If he continues to struggle as badly as he has been it might not be worth keeping him. Especially in a year where it might be more beneficial for the Royals to see what they have within the system throughout the year.

So what do you think Royals fans? Are you willing to give Brandon Maurer more time? Should the Royals consider releasing or trading him? Let us know below!